Why Leyton Orient forward Louis Dennis struggled to make an impact at Portsmouth

Sections of fans couldn’t quite fathom why he didn't get more Pompey opportunities.

But when Louis Dennis departed Fratton Park last summer to join Leyton Orient, it was scarcely a surprise.

The forward arrived in May 2018 on the back of a prolific season with Bromley.

He scored 21 goals and provided 12 assists in 53 appearances as the Ravens narrowly missed out on National League play-offs and were beaten in the FA Trophy final on penalties to Brackley.

Dennis struggled to thrust his way into Kenny Jackett’s first-team plans, however.

Despite encouraging outings in the Checkatrade Trophy, League One involvement would perpetually elude the ex-Dagenham man.

Dennis made a solitary third-tier substitute appearance and he left the Blues for Brisbane Road after one goal in eight appearances.

Bromley manager, Neil Smith, gave his theory behind why the 27-year-old struggled to establish himself at PO4.

Louis Dennis. Picture: Habibur Rahman

While Smith was disappointed Dennis didn't feature more frequently, his playing style in the number-10 role didn't fit Jackett’s playing style.

The former Fulham midfielder said: ‘I was disappointed because I thought Louis could really be given a chance.

‘But it was one of them where I wasn’t sure whether he was a Kenny Jackett sort of player because I know he likes big, physical players like John Marquis.

‘When the ball is at Louis’ feet, he can go either way on his left or right foot and score a goal out of nothing.

Louis Dennis celebrates scoring against Southend. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘He’s a very good player but perhaps didn’t take the opportunity with both hands.

‘You get a lot of players who say they’re a number 10. When I was playing, I’d have loved to have been a number 10 because they think it's that role where you don’t need to do anything until the ball comes to you.

‘So you’re in that nice pocket rather than running wide or jumping for headers, likewise when defending they think they can sit in the hole and wait – that's not the case.

‘I can imagine Kenny Jackett wants a grafter in there. Louis would do that but it’s not his game, he comes to life when the ball comes into him.

‘He pretty much got us to Wembley on his own but I had 10 players who knew how good he was and willing to do all the horrible stuff for Louis.

‘When you're in League One, the Championship and Premier League then you don’t have many luxury players and they have to graft.

‘I gave Louis that bit of licence where there were two dogs of war behind him, but the higher up you go, you can’t have that luxury player.

‘Louis can be as good as he wants to. You can’t coach some of the stuff he did.

‘But when he went to Portsmouth, our player-coach Alan Dunne, who had been at Millwall under Kenny Jackett, said Louis was going to have to learn the hard way.

‘I was surprised he didn't play more games and I genuinely think he is good enough for League One but you’ve got to play to what the manager wants and not what you think you’re best at.’

Pompey raided Bromley for a second time in as many seasons when they signed Recco Hackett-Fairchild for an undisclosed fee in January.

The ex-Charlton man has also had to be patient, having only featured once and been left out of 15 match-day squads.

However, Smith believes Hackett-Fairchild, 21, has age on his side, unlike Dennis.

He added: ‘When Louis did play, he did alright but when you’re his age, you really need to grab the opportunity with both hands.

‘Reeco is 21 and has time to grow, but when you're 26, 27 or 28 then a manager is expecting you to go right in and do it.’

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this story on portsmouth.co.uk. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to portsmouth.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit our Subscription page now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.